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From the Branches: Gameday, Marlies at Hershey Bears

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This late in May, the ice gets soft and the air gets muggy. Ahhh, playoff hockey!

Quick Solar Bears off-season update:

There were some big changes to the front office recently. Former President/General Manager/CEO Jason Siegel was let go, and things will be different now that owner Joe Haleski is going to take part in the daily operations of the team.

According to Don Money, who sent me the transcript of his chat with Haleski, there will be a trend toward trusting the office Millenials with more decisions, now that Siegel is gone. Marketing, getting in touch with the downtown Orlando twenty-somethings, social media... all of that will be put in the hands of the office kids, including youngster Jesse Liebman, the current public relations director.

And also according to Don Money, Haleski speculates that the "only one year?" agreement might have something to do with Lou Lamoriello wanting a different approach toward affiliation after this year is over (maybe Toronto will farm players out to a number of teams and not worry about an ECHL affiliate) -- but he's not very worried about it.

The Solar Bears owner does have nice words to say about the big brother team in Toronto: "Our team changes so much every year but we're confident in Toronto's young team that they're putting out on the ice. You can see what the Marlies are doing and they just have a lot of young players in that system. We're excited about it. They're one of the top franchises in the league for sure and have been forever so we want to be affiliated with them."

How will the Solar Bears change in the off-season to (1) win and (2) help the new Marlies grow a little more in the ECHL? Haleski is going to bring in the maximum number of veteran contracts to help support them (maxing out at four): "I think we need to do a better job of getting the right type of players in this organization. Guys that want to win and want to play. Toronto has done a great job with sending us young talent but we need to do a better job of supplementing that talent with players that compliment them."

Young kids in the front office! Older guys on the ice! All in all, I think it'll make for an interesting change to the Orlando team.

Leafs (system) News

The Hershey Bears stand in the way between the Toronto Marlies and the Calder Cup Final | MLHS
The Bears were the Atlantic Division Champions this season and were the second highest goal scorers in the Eastern Conference, trailing only Toronto. They also allowed 220 goals in the process, tied for worst among teams to qualify for the postseason in the East.

Toronto Marlies: Calder Cup Second Round Wrap-up | MLHS
The Toronto Marlies secured their third Conference Final berth in five years, but it was far from plain sailing in Round 2.

Toronto Marlies have chance to impress wider audience | Toronto Star
"There’s been a real spike in interest in the Marlies because of the number of players who have gone up (to the Leafs)," said Dave Andrews, president of the AHL. "Those guys are, to some extent, the future of the Leafs and there’s a lot of interest in that."

Former Capital Connor Carrick and the Toronto Marlies Will Face the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Finals | RMNB
"We are now a Hershey Bears blog and @Steve_Dangle is our enemy."

Travis Dermott remembers feeling of being drafted by Maple Leafs | Toronto Star
The Erie Otters defenceman has gotten much bigger and could be a full-time Toronto Marlie next season.

Auston Matthews Extended Highlights vs. Czech Republic
Pretty pretty hockey.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Draft Options At #61 | Editor in Leaf
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired the New Jersey Devils third round pick in the Phil Kessel trade (Pittsburgh acquired the pick as compensation for John Hynes). That will be the Toronto Maple Leafs sixth pick in the first 71 selections of the NHL Draft.

Leafs' assistant coach D.J. Smith tells students what it takes to reach the top | Windsor Star
Assistant Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach D.J. Smith’s address to a group of students from Corpus Christi Middle School Thursday pretty much reflected the way he played.

Tiny thing about Zaitsev | CBS Sports
"He's gonna be great D for Maple Leafs," said Russian teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov (Capitals).

And then there's this...

The NHL Rigged the Draft Lottery | Blogger's Tribune
"Last year, the league performed a great misdirect by giving the Oilers Connor McDavid. If rigging the lottery was a conspiracy theory, giving the Oilers another 1st overall pick – and the best 1st overall pick in a decade – was a perfect way to throw people off the trail. But it was rigged. As was this year’s lottery that gave the Leafs the chance to draft Auston Matthews. But neither were rigged for the reason you’d expect."